How to Pack a Carry-On for a Week Abroad

Packing for a trip abroad can be a hassle, because normally you will be gone for a week or more. Most people think this means checking luggage, hoping it makes it from point A to point B, and then waiting at the baggage claim for an extremely long time. This doesn’t have to be the case if you know how to efficiently pack your clothes in one carry-on size suitcase. I’m a Delta kid, so I grew up traveling, and checking luggage was a no no. My dad taught us how to pack all of our clothes in one carry-on, saving us time, money, and the headache of lost bags. So, without further adieu, I give you the step-by-step instructions on how to pack one carry on for your trip abroad!

Step 1: Make sure you have a suitcase that fits the airline’s size requirements for a carry-on. You can go to any airline’s website to look up the size dimensions required. I’ve listed the link to Delta’s requirements as well as pictures of my own carry-on below.

Delta Airlines Carry-On Restrictions

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Step 2: Once you know you have the right size suitcase, lay out all of your outfits you will need for the week. When picking out my outfits for each day, the first thing I do is check the weather. Since you will be abroad, the weather is more than likely to be a little different than at home.


Step 3: Once you’ve done that, start choosing your outfits! The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to re-wear your jeans. Packing a pair of jeans for every day of the week is going to take up a lot of space in your already small carry-on. I usually bring two to three pairs of jeans, saving me room for other things in my bag. Obviously this next tip won’t apply to men, but I have found that packing dresses for travel is perfect! They don’t take up too much space, and they are so comfortable to walk around in while you’re sight-seeing. This goes for summer and winter dresses! You also only want to take a couple of pairs of shoes. Three at the MOST, but I normally just try to keep it to two pairs that go with everything.

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Step 4: Now that you have all of your clothes picked out for the week, it’s time to fit them all into what looks like the smallest bag ever made. Don’t panic. I promise we can make it all work! Start with your shoes. If you’re going to colder weather where you’ll need boots, pack one pair of your boots at the bottom of your bag, or in the top zipper section. Wear the other pair of shoes to the airport, so you’ll have them with you, but won’t have to pack them.

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Next, fold your pants in half, and roll them as tightly as you can. This will allow you to put three pairs of pants side by side without taking up so much space.

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 After putting your pants in the bag, do the same thing with your shirts. If you have dresses save those for last, because they fit nicely on the top.

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I know what a lot of you are thinking at this point: “My clothes are going to be so wrinkly by the time I arrive at my destination”. That’s probably true, the hotel you’re staying at most likely will have an iron. Make sure you pack your intimates, socks, and scarfs (for colder weather) at the end. These things can fit wherever there’s extra space. Also, if you’re packing for colder weather, take your coat with you on the plane. You’re allowed to have a carry-on, personal item (purse or or small bag), and you can also have a jacket with you. No need to take up that space in your suitcase!

Step 5: Packing your bathroom essentials can seem like a scary task to fit in a carry-on, but I promise you will survive without your huge bottles of shampoo and lotion for a week. If you don’t already have all of your bathroom essentials in three ounce bottles or less, you can go to Target or Wal-Mart where they have a whole section dedicated to travel-size bottles of anything you’ll need. Once you have these products, go ahead and put them a in a clear plastic bag, and either put the bag in the front zipper of your carry-on, or in your personal item bag, such as a purse or briefcase. That way when you’re in line for security, you don’t have to dig through your bag while everyone else behind you gives you dirty looks.

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As for your hair dryers, straighteners, and curling irons, LEAVE THEM AT HOME. Chances are, the outlets are going to be different than the ones we have in the states, so unless you have a converter that you trust, don’t risk ruining your expensive hair tools. The hotel you’re staying at will probably have a hair dryer, so don’t fret! For your other essentials like your brush, deodorant, and all of that jazz, just put all of these things in a small travel bag, and stick it in your carry-on.

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Doing all of these things will ensure that you have packed the perfect carry-on for your trip abroad! If you’ve finished these steps and still have some extra room, feel free to put an extra outfit in there, or another pair of shoes!(I packed an extra pair of boots!). Having just a small personal item and carry-on when you’re traveling makes everything so much easier in my opinion. No more worrying about your luggage getting lost somewhere along the way, having to pay the fees to check a bag, or waiting forever at the baggage claim. You can just grab your bag, and be on your way! I hope this helped you for your next big adventure! Happy traveling!

XO  -Ashley